A patiently-struck half-century by Abdul Faseeh and a late-order unbeaten 42 by Maaz Sadaqat helped Pakistan defeat gritty Afghanistan by 24 runs and join England in the Super League quarterfinals of the U-19 ICC Cricket World Cup at the Brian Lara Stadium here on Friday (IST).Pakistan booked their place after making it two wins from two in the tournament. Pakistan skipper Qasim Akram elected to bat first and his side built a solid platform. Opener Muhammad Shehzad lost his partner Haseebullah Khan for just two but kicked on to make 43 off 51 balls.Shehzad shared a 60-run stand with No.3 Abdul Faseeh who made 68 off 95 balls with the skipper Qasim adding 38 from No. 5. But when Izharulhaq Naveed, 3/41, removed Faseeh, Pakistan lost three for 11 and were in danger of not having enough runs to defend at 184/7.
But Maaz Sadaqat, who was later adjudged 'Player of the Match', played a fine innings of 42 not out off just 37 balls, including seven fours, to take his side to 239/9 from their 50 overs.Afghanistan were off to a sluggish start in reply, as the top three consumed far too many deliveries in pursuit of the target. They took 170 balls to bring up 100 runs with Bilal Sayedi (42 off 81), Nangeyalia Kharote (12 off 32) and Allah Noor (28 off 49) having strike rates under 58.However, Afghanistan showed grit later in the innings, but their chase was characterised by wild dashes between the wickets, giving Pakistan the opportunity to effect three run-outs.Noor Ahmad smashed three sixes to leave his side in with a chance of a shock victory, needing 28 off the last two overs with two wickets in hand. But when he fell for 29 off 18 balls to Awais Ali (3/36), there was only going to be one winner. Afghanistan could finally manage 215/9 and will now prepare for a winner-takes-all clash against Zimbabwe on Saturday.
Brief scores: Pakistan 239/9 in 50 overs (Muhammad Shehzad 43, Abdul Faseeh 68, Maaz Sadaqat 42 not out; Izharulhaq Naveed 3/41) beat Afghanistan 215/9 in 50 overs (Bilal Sayedi 42; Awais Ali 3/36) by 24 runs.